Republican lawmakers unveil budget priorities for NY

February 27, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Republican members of the New York state Assembly unveiled their priorities for the state budget on Wednesday, focusing on issues ranging from tax relief to proposed prison closures by the Cuomo administration.

“Our budget priorities reflect the reality that New Yorkers are leaving in droves because they simply cannot afford to live here,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, of Canandaigua, who released his conference’s budget priorities during a news conference held outside the chamber’s entrance.

The GOP’s 10-point wish-list includes making the 2 percent property tax permanent, increasing tuition assistance for college students and keeping local government funding intact.

It remains to be seen whether the Assembly’s Democratic majority will take the suggestions to heart. Democrats hold 107 seats to the GOP’s 43 in the 150-seat Assembly. The suggestions come as lawmakers work to approve a new state budget by an April 1 deadline.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $175 billion spending plan for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Democrats now control the Assembly, Senate and governor’s office for the first time in a decade, giving them significant control over the state budget process. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins do most of the negotiating behind closed doors, a traditional Albany arrangement that leaves minority party leaders out of budget talks.

Kolb and other Republican lawmakers called on Democrats to consider the GOP’s proposals, some of which align with those supported by the Senate. Some of the GOP’s other proposals include increasing funds for local street and highway improvement projects and boosting funding for the state’s libraries.

Assembly Republicans also want the Cuomo administration’s top corrections official to testify before lawmakers to explain the governor’s plan to close three state prisons later this year, a move likely to impact Republican upstate areas since that’s where most of the state’s 54 correctional facilities are located.

“Local governments are being crushed by mandates, taxes are through the roof and Gov. Cuomo is brazenly proposing to cut critical funding to municipalities already under severe stress,” said Assemblyman Will Barclay, a Republican from Oswego County. “There is something very wrong with this picture.”

A message sent to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office seeking comment on the GOP’s proposals wasn’t returned.